CARING FOR THE CAREGIVER

 By Bob Smith

The January 2016 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance discusses the cost of caregiving to family members.  Caregiving often falls on one family member.  The National Alliance for Caregiving, as well as AARP, contends that during a recent 12-month period, more than 43 million adults provided caregiving services to family or friends.  The article cites a Rand Corporation report that, nationally,“ the annual value of unpaid caregiving just for the elderly at $522 billion.”

The article goes on to cite a MetLife study that puts the total cost for a caregiver over the time that caregiving is provided at over $324,000, consisting of lost wages ($143,000), lost Social Security benefits ($131,000) and reduced pension benefits ($50,000).  While it is difficult to put a monetary value on the well-being of a loved one no longer able to live independently, it does put into perspective the sacrifice of the caregiver and the monetary, physical and emotional well-being their caregiving extracts.  Going it alone can cause anxiety and resentment. But it doesn’t have to be an individual effort.

The Kiplinger’s article suggests that when the prospect of an extended caregiving situation arises, it is a good idea to hold  a family meeting.  One of the suggestions offered is to have a mediator present to lead the discussion.   A mediator, as an objective and neutral facilitator, can lead the discussion through difficult and sometimes sensitive topics such as the level of care needed, the associated costs, how the costs and the caregiving tasks are to be allocated among the family and possible assistance that may be provided by outside agencies.  The optimal result is that the caregiving for the loved one(s) is provided and the caregiver is supported.

While such caregiving is widespread, it is by no means the only challenge with which families or individuals deal today.  Conflicts can develop between roommates in dividing tasks, between a landlord and a tenant, between neighbors over noise or pets, between co-workers in a business or government environment, between family members over the division of a deceased relative’s assets, or when a relationship is broken. These are examples of when Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) can help to bring a fair, realistic and peaceful resolution to a minor conflict before it escalates into a major conflict.

Mediation can be used when the parties in a dispute agree to work together with a trained mediator to find a solution, such as suggested in the Kiplinger’s articles discussed above.  However, perhaps one party in the dispute is not willing to consider mediation.  If so, Conflict Coaching, another service provided by MSAC, can be used.  The conflict coach will listen to her client to discern his needs, issues, and concerns.  The conflict coach will guide her client in discerning the absent disputant’s needs, issues, and concerns.  Options can then be explored to develop the next step.

MSAC provides dispute resolution services that are affordable, on a sliding scale according to income with rates beginning at $10 and increasing to $50 per session.  To speak with an intake coordinator, call 717-334-7312or contact MSAC by email at mediationac@yahoo.com.